Meridian Star

June 7, 2013

Pope scores on gobbler

By Mike Giles / Outdoors Writer
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Jodi Pope started shooting at the age of seven and killed her first deer at the young age of nine. She also went on big game hunts in Texas and Africa while harvesting Texas bucks, African wildebeests and gemsbok, but she never had a thought about going turkey hunting. She didn’t really know a thing about it and didn’t want to.

    But then she met Les Hailey in Starkville when she attended Mississippi State University. Hailey was an avid turkey hunter and tried to persuade Pope to go turkey hunting with him. But turkey hunting was the furthest thing from her mind at the time and she never went with him.

    “Had I known then, what I know now,” Pope said. “I might have gone on hunting with him. “Les had been trying to get me to go turkey hunting for 12 years and I finally relented,” she said. “It’s now or never,” Hailey said.

    And plans were made to go on a hunt, though the young lady didn’t have a clue as to what she was about to get herself into. Pope and Hailey went to her granny’s farm near Edinburg and hunted there shortly after dawn but didn’t rouse a gobble.

    “We got there before daylight and didn’t hear a thing for 30 to 40 minutes so we decided to move,” Pope said. “We went back behind Granny’s house and heard one gobbling good. Les called and he gobbled and he called again and he gobbled again,” she continued.

    “We moved up and got closer to him and set up in a brush pile and Les called to him again and he gobbled back,” she continued. “That bird was hot.” And he was coming.

    “Les is an excellent teacher and guide and takes lots of people hunting,” Pope said. And Hailey was really putting it on the gobbler something strong and the old tom loved it.

    “This was my first turkey hunt ever and I hadn’t shot a shotgun in nine years since my dad, Randy Pope, and I shot skeet,” said Pope. The young lady was burning up her phone with texts about the exciting hunt she was on when Hailey urgently interrupted her.

    “You put that phone down now, that turkey’s going to come out right there,” Hailey said as he motioned to the spot.

    “I saw the gobbler go behind a tree and I dropped him with one shot when he came out the other side!” she exclaimed. “Les was sitting right behind me when I killed him at nine a. m.” said Pope. Naturally she was beside herself with joy over the kill.

    “It’s just a fever that is just- wow!” said Pope. “I’ve been to Texas, Africa and a few other places, but none of that compares to turkey hunting. It was such a beautiful sunrise and day, and I’ve seen more sunrises this spring than ever before.”

    This young lady was plainly charged up with a big case of turkey fever and was up for the challenge when the moment of truth came. “Les called him up and I shot my first gobbler that morning and we were eating turkey nuggets at lunch with my granny, Edwina Pope!” she said.

    “If I’d only known then, what I know now. . . I’d have been a turkey hunter way back then!” Pope said excitedly. One thing's for sure, Jodi Pope is a bona fide turkey hunter with a serious case of turkey fever!

    Contact  Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or e-mail him at